April 20, is the unofficial holiday that celebrates the existence of marijuana, cannabis, weed, or whatever you like to call the green buds that’s now legal smoke recreationally in 10 American states. But what does 4/20 have to do with Adolf Hitler? And how did April 20, commonly referred to as “Weed Day,” a secular celebration of all things cannabis-related, become synonymous with the leader of the Nazi regime in World War II?
The connection between 4/20 and Hitler lies in the fact that former German Fuhrer was born on April 20, 1889. But other than this one similarity, the holiday of weed has nothing to do with man who continues to be the symbol of evil and hatred nearly 130 years after his birth. Regardless of what rumors and tales fly, Hitler in no way, shape or form, has anything to do with people people smoking copious amounts of weed, baking cannabis into brownies, or whichever way one chooses to celebrate 4/20. The matching dates are merely a case of bad luck.
The reason there’s a myth linking the Meinkampf author to 4/20 continues to permeate, is because the true meaning behind the marijuana celebration day is foggy at best. There are rumors that April 20 was picked because “4:20” is the code police uses after catching people illegally smoking weed. However, ask any cop, this penal code does not exist.
The truth is, 4/20 has nothing to do with the police, or the number of chemical compounds found in a cannabis strain, and it didn’t become a thing until long after Hitler lost World War II and committed suicide in 1945.
According to TIME, the birth of 4/20 dates back to 1971, when a group of five buddies at San Rafael High School in California would all meet near the statue of chemist Louis Pasteur to smoke a joint at 4:20 p.m., the time when all their extracurricular activities ended.
This group guys, Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich, called themselves the “Waldos,” and would shout to one another “420” during school, code for “meet you by the statue at 4:20 p.m. to smoke up.” Reddix, who’s now a documentary filmmaker explained, “We got tired of the Friday-night football scene with all of the jocks. We were the guys sitting under the stands smoking a doobie, wondering what we were doing there.”
Reddix’s brother helped him gdt a job as a roadie for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, and the term quickly spread through the Deadhead crowds. On December 28, 1990, fans of the Grateful Dead in Oakland, California started passing out flyers, inviting everyone to meet up at smoke at 4:20 p.m., and this piece of paper fell into the hands of Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine. The outlet published the flyer in 1991, and in 1998, the publication credited the “Waldos for the invention of 4/20.